Friday, July 30, 2010

a shoe-box full of songs

I know an actual hip-hop artist.
Haiti Boy White Boy
can be found on You Tube -- music videos.

I asked "Haiti Boy" today if he's making a music video this weekend;
he said, Taking a little break.

"To write songs?" I asked.

"Oh, I've got songs. Songs --" he looked off into the distance, like he was mentally inventorying all the songs he's written -- trying to remember them all, and how many...
Then he turned back to me:
"I've got a shoe-box full of songs."
Thinking of his abundance.

That's the thing about artists -- they create their own wealth.
I told him, "You're like Stevie Nicks -- she was a prolific songwriter -- she cut her own albums for a while, just because all of the songs she wrote wouldn't fit on the Fleetwood Mac albums, because they were all songwriters, in that band.

I don't think he was familiar with Stevie Nicks.
Not sure he had even heard of Fleetwood Mac.

Variety --
And availability
and decades --
makes cultural differences.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bouffant issues

[passage from Barbara Leaming's book, Mrs. Kennedy]:
...Jackie spent Tuesday morning with Kenneth, her New York hairdresser. Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, was arriving that day....her presence at the welcoming ceremony for Selassie was obligatory. When Jack came upstairs to collect her at half past eleven, he exploded, angrily instructing her maid to see if Kenneth was still in the building. Jackie's haircut made her look far too jet-set. The hairdresser, discovered in Mary Gallagher's office on the third floor, was brought back. "What are you trying to do," Kennedy asked, "ruin my career?" Jackie's hair was promptly combed out and rearranged into a much more conservative pageboy style. When she put on a new hat, Jack erupted again. The maid was sent for a replacement.
[Mrs. Kennedy: The Missing History
of the Kennedy Years, by
Barbara Leaming. 2001.
The Free Press, div. / Simon
& Schuster Inc. New York,
New York]
It would be nice if our leaders were free to concentrate on important issues, which is their job, instead of having to deal with "image" issues which seem like a petty waste of time/energy, both in hindsight and in present time. (Her hair looked nice. Isn't that enough? Let it lie. Let's all go on with our day. But when you're picked on by the press about the most trivial matters, then your focus is drawn to the trivial.)
And to reiterate from yesterday's post -- that was all long before the internet.
Journalism should be professional, and civilized, and emotionally mature.
(If anyone reads that sentence and thinks I'm stupid for imagining such a thing -- well, how stupid is it to be fixated on whining about people's hairstyles, in the public press?)
Picking on people
I'm offering that as a theory.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

jet set hair

The Hoax / smear story against a U-S-D-A employee (Shirley Sherrod) made me think about several things:

1. a Phenomenon in Today's Society: a tendency to react and overreact, without checking facts;
2. "networks"; cable channels; and "news";
3. "jet-set hair" and the fear which politicians live under
There's a trend toward
a) operating on Reaction, and
b) overreacting, and
c) not checking facts (because "if someone said it then it's true!!!!"), and
d) thinking that we have to DoEverythingReallyReallyFast.


If we operate based on Reacting to things, are we leading, or following?

Pres. Obama, what were you & Mr. Vilsack thinking? Who was checking facts for you, my friend? Are you letting the self-interested maniacs on cable television pull your strings? Are you letting them "jerk your chain"? Your strings and your chain should be utterly unavailable to them. They are entertainers of dubious qualification; you are the leader of the free world. Stay on business.

It looks to me like Operating In Reaction to Whatever Anyone Says leads to bad stuff.
(I'm going to say, I was there when this trend crept into politics. In the late 90s in our state politics another lobbyist started saying the phrase, "Perception is reality." I picked up on it at the time & knew it wasn't good.

"Perception is reality."

No, it isn't.)

-- Overreacting: simply the next step in Operating In Reaction to things -- and part of the trend toward thinking we have to talk and do stuff reallyreallyfast -- maybe that comes from computers and internet and instantaneous nature of a lot of elements we work with now. But we can control that; we can choose how we behave, and how we live, and what we choose to believe. We can check facts. We can do things in a measured way, with common sense.

If all we ever do is react and overreact, then it's as if Life is one long series of tantrums.
Is that what we want?
When we see people behave in this manner, are we going to believe everything, or anything, they say?

A lot of stuff on TV which has the word "news" near it is not news. Some of it's advertising; some of it's propaganda; some of it's certain "stars" who SAY they are giving us news, when they're not; they're just having public tantrums and getting paid a lot of money to do it. (They're going to claim that "sells." Well, not to me, it doesn't. I'm not buying.)

When some people in the media talk about "news" channels (which, as I say, are NOT news) they call them "networks."

Excuse me. The Networks are CBS, ABC, and NBC.
Cable channels are NOT networks; they are cable channels.
Some of them are trying to call themselves networks now, to make themselves sound like they have credibility. Because they truly have no credibility. Which is why they must try to sound like they do.

A cable channel is just that -- a cable channel.
It is not a network.

(The state legislature here passed a bill, back in the 80s, changing the name of every state college: they took out the word "college" and plugged in the word "university." All the state colleges were then called universities, at the stroke of a pen! [This was back before the DWI laws really kicked in, and people still drank a lot when they went out to the capital...don't know if that influenced this brilliant decision...!]

A college is still a college; it doesn't become a "university" because you change the name.
And a cable channel is "cable"; it's not a network.
have a nice day

And, while I do think internet and computer-fast instant-ness is having its influence in the current trend toward reaction, overreaction, and the naturally resulting insane behavior, in some cases, I also had to admit I thought of another scenario which came about long before there was any internet:
when politicians (presidents, and others) seem to overreact to situations, and to "how things are going to Look" -- it's because they get criticized about a lot of stupid stuff. Partly because of party politics and competition, and partly just because they are under a sort of microscope because of their position.

There's a story in Barbara Leaming's biography, "Mrs. Kennedy" where President and Mrs. Kennedy were preparing to go someplace and when the president went upstairs to the family quarters to meet his wife and walk down with her, he kind of blew up because of her hair-do.

A hairstylist had done an arrangement of the First Lady's hair that was a little different from the usual -- according to the book, Kennedy exploded, saying the press was going to report it as a "jet set hairstyle," or as "too jet-set" -- something like that.

Pres. Kennedy was reacting (there's that word -- reacting) to criticism and sniping in the press which had evolved from observations of Jacqueline Kennedy's famous "style." Her popularity was a two-sided record. Side "A" was -- Great! People like his wife, more votes for him in next election; however, Side "B" was -- yes, she's too classy, too international, too la-di-da...whatever....

What he was trying to do was catch any little detail which might draw criticism and play into any evolving "narrative" of his wife having "fancy" tastes -- he probably thought he was "protecting" them both from needless media heat. (And all this with no Internet!)
But in reality what you end up doing in situations like that is,
and Over-react.

What we need now: A Return to Skepticism!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

the city was asleep

Sometimes when I read I skip descriptions.
In my novel, I find myself writing few descriptions, except of people, and tones of voice and accents.
I don't seem to be motivated with trees and lakes and stuff. I don't know if that's good or bad.

From the novel Gentleman's Agreement,
here's a description I didn't skip.

The city was asleep. New York, the nervous, keyed-up city, was almost at rest two hours past midnight. Watching the sleeping stone under the quiet sky, the mind might know that there were still people laughing in night clubs, trucks and taxis still speeding through streets and avenues, swift subways underground still thundering into lighted stations.

But to the eye itself, the city was dark, sleeping, motionless. Here an oblong of shaded yellow cut its way out of the surrounding block of stone, and there a strip of continuing light showed a whole floor of a skyscraper café, a shelf of life and animation bracketed high above the city. But apart from the single window, from the single strip, there stretched from river to river, from street to sky, a city's surrender to oblivion or dreaming.
[end quote]
[Laura Z. Hobson, 1947.
Simon & Schuster,
New York]
"...a city's surrender to oblivion or dreaming."
Something else I liked: the copy of the book I borrowed is, I believe, an original from the year 1947 and the pages are uneven at the right-hand edge -- a lot of books published in that time frame were like that; publishers used cheaper paper and and process, due to war-time rationing.
I liked being able to share in that experience by holding the actual book that was like that, in my hand -- instead of hearing about how it was but having a newer edition of the book with higher-quality paper and smooth, even edges.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Brother, it was a cinch

"Mary, take a help-wanted ad, will you?" Minify picked up the small pad, read what he'd written, then ignored it. "Upper case, 'EXPERT SECRETARY,' and a couple lines white space. Then, lower case, 'for editorial department, national magazine, exacting work, good pay.' Then single line white space. Then, 'Religion is a matter of indifference in this office. Write full experience to Box ----' Got that, Mary?"

For the first time since he'd met her, Phil saw expression appear in her prim face. She likes this, he thought, and was surprised to find within himself an odd sense of occasion. "Better state the salary, Mr. Minify," Mary said matter-of-factly, "instead of just 'good pay.'"

"O.K. O.K. You fix it. Times, Trib?" ...

"In any other ads you run, use that line, please." Vigorously he turned to Phil. "High time heads of firms took public positions on it."

Minify watched her decorous progress across the office and through the door. Then, as if the episode had sped up his metabolism, he embarked at once on a spirited harangue with invisible opponents. Once Phil thought, He isn't as calm and journalistic about it all as he was a few weeks ago, and instantly added, Lord, neither am I. Minify was half shouting at him now. "--the sloppy, slovenly notion that everybody's busy with bigger things. There just isn't anything bigger, as an issue, than beating down the complacence of essentially decent people about prejudice. Not what Stalin's up to, not the bomb or the peace. Because if hatred and bigotry just go on rotting the basis of this damn country" -- he glared at Phil -- "all the rest is pious hypocrisy."

[from Chapter Eight, Gentleman's
Agreement, by Laura Z. Hobson.
1947. Simon and Schuster,
New York.]
Since I have the movie and have watched parts of it, when I saw the book on a friend's bookshelf Saturday, I accepted her offer to loan it to me -- read it this weekend.
A compelling novel, it came out 1947, aftermath WW II -- my friend read it that year. The book contributed to the national conversation and helped people think in different ways about things.
They had different slang expressions back then -- I loved it when I came to the part where the main character has figured out an angle for his magazine series -- in the excitement and investment of planning, he thinks, "Brother, it was a cinch."

Monday, July 19, 2010

met my own idea coming from the other way

This morning it occurred to me that one of the most powerful choices we can make is what we pay attention to.
There is so much information / entertainment / etc. coming at us -- I thought, if there's something negative -- hateful talk, lies, misinformation, whatever -- every individual has the power to Not Pay Attention To It. To "not give it any oxygen."

Instead, a person can stay busy with something positive -- there isn't enough time in life to achieve all the positive things we want to, why spend ANY of that positive-doing-time on anything that's negative?

You could call it Selective Focus.
People can Select what they are going to spend time and energy on, and make sure it's always something which adds value to their Life and the lives of others.
(Who am I today, Oprah?)

And in thinking about this, I realized that my buddies who do not vote are already applying the Selective Focus I'm talking about -- they're way ahead of me. They see politics and the negative ranting and misinformation which surrounds it as Negative and as Not Contributing to their Priorities / Things They Value, so they -- ignore it. They don't allow it to claim their attention. They don't spend any energy on it.

These people who don't vote are already applying the principle that I just thought of.



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

praying apologizing voting

Until three years ago I had no idea how many people there are who don't vote.

Without intending to conduct a survey, or "poll," I sort of wandered into conversations with miscellaneous people I met through work and was astounded to discover that MANY working people do not vote.

Out of, say, 24 people I might ask, maybe 2 will say that they vote.

It was like a smack in the head. I am not over it yet.
I truly had no idea there were so many working people who do not vote.


(What did I think, before? What was my belief? What was my assumption?
I don't know.
I guess -- it's like -- why would you not?)

It's ingrained in my brain that in America, people are equal, we're lucky to be Americans, we're free, we have opportunities, and we all get to help select who will lead us.
Where did I get this? My parents? School? Yes. Probably. I don't know.

Two days ago a guy was leaving work and I asked him how to pronounce the name of the governor of West Virginia -- Manchin ("mansion"? "mank-in"? "man-chin"?, I had been wondering...)

"Mansion," was his answer.
Then I asked, automatically, without really intending to, what kind of governor he is -- "is he someone you would vote for?"
Bam! I shouldn't have asked.
"I don't vote," was his answer.
And without intending to, I started cajoling, lobbying, begging, reasoning, persuading -- trying to help him see Voting as I see it -- as -- well, Something You Do.

I didn't mean to do that -- start arguing with him, pushing him to vote.
(I mean to encourage, and be positive, but I very much fear that my enthusiasm may sometimes be interpreted by the other person as lecturing or badgering.)

Because a lot of energy comes out of me on this subject, and it's partly because I'm still astonished / amazed / in shock, to learn that a lot of the people who do the hard work don't vote.

They do the hard work, they make things go, and they do not "have the deal" to get gargantuan sums of money like our friends on Wall Street, etc., and the only place where the playing field is really level is voting.
George W. Bush has one vote.
I have one vote.
Caroline Kennedy has one vote.
Steven Spielberg has one vote.
The CEO of this company has one vote.
Each of the men who works on the loading dock has one vote.
Each manager has one vote.
Each welder and maintenance person has one vote.

Discovering that many of the working people, who do not have the financial wealth and the advantages of a "fast track" simply do not take advantage of their right to vote has left me puzzled and -- I don't know, it -- it blows my mind.

Partly because -- everybody I know who has financial security, and in some cases wealth, votes.
They believe that their opinions count.
They think they know how things should be, and they want to "weigh in," on Election Day.

It seems to me that every working person also counts, and their opinions and feelings should be taken into consideration when important decisions are made for America, but if they, by and large, remain separated from the process by not voting, then it's like -- well, it's like they don't count, because they're not being counted. Because they don't weigh in on Election Day.

When I ask people why they don't vote, they say,
"It doesn't make any difference."
"It's a waste of time; one person's vote doesn't matter."
"They're all crooks."
"There aren't any people like us in politics."

The hugeness of the "disconnect" is extraordinary.

And I feel sure it is not endemic to this particular workplace, or town, or state -- this is Working Class America, I think.
Yesterday morning I lay on my bed looking up at the ceiling, and I told myself I have to resist the impulse to try to talk people into voting, because I don't want to offend them -- make them feel like I'm yelling at them.
I resolved to apologize to the co-worker I had been "lobbying" the day before, when he was trying to leave & go home.

I thought, for (almost) three years in this job, I've been trying to just accept the fact that these people don't vote.
And then I thought -- OK, for three years have I actually been trying to accept the fact that they don't vote? Or have I been trying to figure out a way to --

Do I just -- Want My Way?

Later, at work, I apologized to the guy and offered a small peppermint pattie.
He said, "I wasn't bothered by it, at all."
With all the civility and politeness that the typical political commentators lack.

See -- that's just it -- the hardest-working, most decent, most honest people who face the Real World and handle their Real Responsibilities -- they're the ones who have removed themselves from the Process !! What's wrong with that picture??!!

I may have to buy more peppermint patties. ...


Monday, July 12, 2010

NYPD, governors, immigrants, Allman Brothers

3 items for a Monday
In today's New York Times, an article entitled "A Few Blocks, 4 Years, 52,000 Police Stops"
In a high-crime area in NYC police are using what I'd call a proactive approach -- they're stopping a lot of people. ACLU doesn't necessarily think it's so great -- that's their job.

What they're (police) trying to do is provide security before crime happens instead of cleaning up the blood and bodies afterwards. I think most of us would be in favor of that -- the only thing is, it gets intimidating for people who live there because it's like the police are after everybody.

To keep the effort from becoming (or being perceived as) oppressive, police should simply use each "stop" event -- as an opportunity to interact with the individual in a positive way -- not only making sure, no weapons, no drugs, and you're not drinking anything that smells funny, but also then ask the person what's going on in the neighborhood, and converse about something positive. Like -- did your team win last weekend? Or, Are you going to the concert next week? Whatever.

(Some people might scoff at this idea and say, "Oh right, make it like a nice little social event"... but they CAN. And it's not a stupid idea; it's a good idea. Adding civility to any interaction not only disarms or prevents negative results or attitudes, but also builds positive results which can expand and last. Plus the police would receive a lot of useful information.)

Every time they stop somebody, they should check them, as they're already doing, and also interact with them in a positive way; it's a networking opportunity.

2. "Governors Voice Grave Concerns on Immigration" is another article on N.Y. Times page today -- national governors' conference -- concern about immigration and also about Arizona's immigration law.
a) That law sounds to me like one which is similar to our state's "term limits" law in that it's an expression of somewhat unfocused anger. Laws based on that always are scary, to me.

b) And I'm wondering, were any large business interests invited to that governors' meeting to discuss their dependence on, and demand for, cheap labor?

c) Did the attending governors bring information regarding who is lawn-mowing, gardening, and nannying at their house, and at the houses of their financial donors, and just how "green" their cards are?

On the weekend, I was listening to the "Eat A Peach" album by the Allman Brothers (Man, 1972! I could hardly believe it was from that long ago.) And I've been puzzled ever since I purchased this album (on CD) just a few years ago, as to why every single song on it is so incredibly familiar to me -- I'm always like, "How do I know all this music??" I never owned the album before -- Saturday while I was cleaning and listening, I decided I must have heard every cut from this LP more than once on WBCN, the radio station I was tuned to for five years -- four in college, one more to stay and work. They played "album rock" -- in other words, not just songs which were put out as "singles."

That's all I can figure out. That's the only place where I could have been exposed to every last one of these songs so that they each sound just as familiar as any church hymn that I once knew but then didn't hear for a while.

I never listen to the radio anymore -- too many commercials, too much dead air (from letting stuff play from satellites instead of having people there to manage it) and nothing for me to connect to. (Except one -- some guys I know have a show on Saturday nights and I do listen to that, because it's them, because they have good music (it expands my taste), & because want to improve my Spanish.)

But when I was in school, I had the radio on every day, I think.


Friday, July 9, 2010

the sound of the record

"The sound of the record made me feel like I was somebody else."

Bob Dylan says this at the beginning of "No Direction Home," a documentary made by Martin Scorsese.

Dylan is describing this experience -- sort of, discovering music, when he was a child. His dad had bought this house, in Hibbing, Minnesota, and in the house there was a big "mahogany radio" someone had left. When you opened the top of the radio there was a 78 turntable. And there was a record -- a song called "Drifting too Far from the Shore."

And the kid (Robert Zimmerman) played it; and --

"The sound of the record
made me feel like I was
somebody else."
Hearing Bob Dylan say that made me remember when I was introduced to his music.
When I was in fourth grade in public school, in Rootstown, Ohio,
our whole class had to go to Mrs. Creswell's room (once a week, I think) for Music.
(Mrs. Creswell had dark hair which flipped up at her shoulders, like Marlo Thomas's hair in "That Girl.")
Mrs. Creswell had words written out (in chalk) on the blackboard --
How many roads must a man walk down,
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must the white dove sail,
Before she sleeps in the sand?
She told us she was going to teach us a song -- it was written by this guy, Bob Dylan, who, Mrs. Creswell said in a certain tone, "is kind of a -- hippie."
Her voice had a sort of promise and warning and tentativeness, all mixed together, when she said that.
I did not have all the words to describe it at the time, but I remember the feeling very clearly -- it resonated with me -- it was like, she was going to teach us a song by a hippie and that might possibly be questioned or disapproved of by -- (who? other teachers? principal? superintendent? school board? our parents? the police...?) --whatever, there was a sense that we might be "coloring outside the lines" a bit.
I had very little experience with going outside the lines.
And I could not wait to
(Did Mrs. Creswell KNOW how to motivate ten-year-olds?? What an expert! LOL)
My next encounter with Dylan's music did not come until eight years later, during the summer after high school graduation. I waitressed at a summer resort and lived in a cabin with other waitresses. There was stereo in the kitchen; everyone brought record albums -- they were lined up in a row, like books on a shelf. Someone had brought "Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, volume 1."
I wasn't starting college until September, but my Higher Education began in May when I listened to that album for the first time!
("The sound of the record made me feel like I was somebody else.")

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Turn your love my way

a great album to listen to:

Eat A Peach
by The Allman Brothers

has the song "Melissa"
and "Blue Sky" --

when I bought this CD a few years ago, I heard the song "Blue Sky" and it just was so familiar and so nostalgic, to me because -- had not heard it in a long time, and back when I did hear it I heard it a lot -- I never had the album when I was younger, so must have experienced it on Radio and / or someone else's album collection.

It's the one that goes --
"You're -- my -- blue sky,
Lord knows it makes me high
When you turn your love my way.

Turn your love my WA-a-Y..."

The whole album is great -- it, like, rocks out & is also very sweet, at the same time.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

remembered moments, like gems

News of a death: I grabbed today's local paper and on the front page read about the death of someone I knew.

Only knew him in passing -- working in same milieu.
And knew OF him, more than actually Knowing Him.

Thought right away of getting a Sympathy card to send to his son -- "the Family of..." -- and then I thought, I want to add something personal about the deceased -- pleasant memories to treasure and smile about. (You know -- sorry to hear of your dad's passing -- well of course, but what did he do when he was alive that we celebrate? what makes us grateful we knew him?) So I typed a note (because my handwriting is not always easy to read), and wrote about small moments and remembered conversations with the father.

I remembered one, and then three more came, with little effort -- I noted each one and then wrote them out. How he always called me "Kid" when he greeted me, during legislative sessions -- and about the time when he was so amused by a quote I told to him, that he went right across the lunch-room at the state capital to tell somebody else the quote, and to credit me for it, when in actuality somebody else had said it -- and how I felt a little awkward, like I had grabbed credit for someone else's wit, unintentionally -- but you know, once he thought it was funny, he had the Moment and there was no getting it back - ! That "genie was out of the bottle."
Stuff like that... just little, incidental conversations.

I think they'll like it.
I think his family will say, "Yeah, that's him, I can totally picture him saying it, just like that!"

Did my best.

He passed a week after Senator Byrd from West Virginia.
Byrd: 92;
our guy: 78.


Monday, July 5, 2010

a poem written on the weekend

a poem

"As Hot As It Was"
It slowed everything down,
Humid night;
Fireworks -- beautiful colors!
Lightning -- a warning!
Individual energy:
pressed down.
Then, the
silvery cool
of flapping wind,
and the cleansing cool
of showering rain,
Showing an idea of cool,
on my porch,
at the start of the storm [!])
But in the bedroom
on bare mattress,
still wrapped in
"hot and muggy."
Pillow directly under
window ledge
at far corner of bed,
to rest face and wait
for occasional
to slide over
4 am. Some
kind of weird lights
in front of neighbors' mansion.
Two sharp lights
Then gone.
Still hot.
A Diet Coke
from refrigerator;
first, to touch -- cold, damp
aluminum can to my neck;
and second,
to sip --
only a little,
a couple
of times
and then let
the can sit
on the windowsill,
as if to attract
and encourage
(A "waste" of a can of pop?
Well -- in the morning
it will have to go
into the refrigerator
[the cool / cold refrigerator -- Mmmhh],
with a piee of Saran Wrap over top of it...OK?!)
And later, after
several hours
of Sleep,
finally --
a temperate, not-hot
welcomed me to
Sunday. And
the can of Diet Coke
was still upright
on the windowsill --
by Cat or Breeze.
When I picked up the can
I was surprised
by how cool
it still was.
what a hot night
it had been.

Friday, July 2, 2010

blood on the tracks

How I feel tonight:
from two songs --

"...all the people we used to know,
they're an illusion to me now...."
[Bob Dylan, "Tangled
Up In Blue," from Blood
On The Tracks album, 1975]
And --
"I've been shooting in the dark too long
When something's not right it's wrong
["You're Gonna Make Me
Lonesome When You
Go" / Dylan, Tracks]

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Satisfaction -- I can't GET no -- No no no...

I broke it down.

Two days ago I wrote in my blog post about voting patterns I don't understand in the state where I live. My thoughts and ideas and memories were sort of floating around and I was unsatisfied with how clearly I made my point(s), so must try again.

It seems to me, when I vote, I think like this:
When voting for senators and representatives for Washington, I vote based on who I think will do the best job. If there's an incumbent and I think he's going a good job, I'll probably vote to re-elect him. If I think the quality of his representation of my state is less than what the challenger will offer, then I will vote for the challenger.

When voting for state-level senators and representatives, I apply the same idea.

That makes sense, to me.
Voting patterns of my state's electorate are different from my approach.
Now, I don't have to conform to the majority,
and they don't have to conform to me.
However, I do struggle to try to understand the mind-set, or philosophy behind certain of the voting "statements" made by my fellow citizens.
18 years is the longest our state's voters will keep a senator in. Went and checked: high-profile, influential senators in recent years (by recent, I mean since mid-20th century) each served 18 years, or, three 6-year terms. None stepped down -- all three lost their bid for a fourth term. Now, if West Virginia voted like that, Senator Byrd would have been done in 1976, 34 years earlier. (There's perspective!)

When a senator has served long enough and learned enough about how to do a good job, and how to get things done, he can have influence (or "clout," as we like to say) on behalf of his state. He can chair key committees, etc. Being able to have influence on behalf of your state's people means something to me, and it must mean something to the voters in the Southern states where they've traditionally re-elected their guys for many successive terms if they're doing a good job.

If you vote to take your experienced, influential guy OUT, and put a totally new guy IN, then you are in a sense "starting over" at "the bottom."

However, the voters in the state where I live have shown, time and again, that they like to start over at the bottom, and they do not place a value on our senators or representatives having influence in Washington.

Is this because we are a "frontier" state? Is it a "pioneer" spirit of wanting to change and start over someplace new? A covered-wagon mentality?

A guy I used to know said once in disgust, "The people in this state resent success, and they like to lose."

I don't know about that.
What about this? Our electorate doesn't understand the power of influence in Washington, because they're not interested, and they see elections as an opportunity only to "lob a grenade" at somebody. (If they could vote some other state's senator out of office they would, but they can't, so they vote their own guy out. -- in politics, there's an old saying credited to Lyndon Johnson -- "I'd rather be inside the tent pissing out, than outside pissing in."

Do the voters in my state see an election as an opportunity to "piss into the tent"?
In my quest to understand this electorate phenomenon, I remain unsatisfied.